Chase Timberlake, facing, and his Baldwin teammates celebrate their 46-26 win...

Chase Timberlake, facing, and his Baldwin teammates celebrate their 46-26 win over Port Washington in the Nassau Class AAA boys basketball final at Farmingdale State College on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

Baldwin arrived for the season with a mostly inexperienced group after taking three straight Nassau AA boys basketball championships. And yet there were the Bruins looking so happy Saturday night, celebrating on the court at Farmingdale State College.

They had just won a AAA county title, one that came with an A-plus defensive effort and superior work from two guards.

Junior Chase Timberlake scored 16 points and freshman Peyton Howell contributed 12, and both had nine in the fourth quarter.

Second-seeded Baldwin pulled away in that final period and beat No. 1 Port Washington, 46-26.

So make it four straight county championships.

“I am surprised,” coach Darius Burton said. “I am. But I am so proud of this group.

“But tradition never leaves Baldwin. And this group wanted to get on that wall. We couldn’t get on the wall with the conference because Port Washington won the conference. So I told them what was at stake: ‘You win today, you’re on the wall. You don’t win, you’re not going to be remembered.’ ”

These Bruins have qualified to be on a wall banner as Nassau champions at the very least. Now this 17-6 team will face Suffolk champ Bay Shore in the Long Island AAA title game/Southeast Regional final at 5 p.m. next Saturday back at Farmingdale State.

“We’ve just got to come out there and be hungry again,” Timberlake said. “We’ve just got to want it.”

They left Port Washington with a 20-3 final record, including two wins over Baldwin in the regular season.

The Vikings, who fell in the AA final to Baldwin a year ago, were seeking the program’s first county title since 1947. But the Bruins mixed defenses and just made it very hard for them to score.

“In the moment right now, it hurts … because this was not how we wanted it to end tonight,” coach Sean Dooley said. “But this was one of the best seasons in Port Washington basketball history.”

The Vikings’ defense also made it hard for Baldwin to score over the first three quarters.

The Bruins took a 25-20 lead into the fourth. Then they outscored Port Washington, 21-6.

Timberlake boosted the lead to 29-21 by converting a drive with 4:56 left. John Spinoso, who led the Vikings with six points, countered with a straight-on three to cut it to five.

But Timberlake struck right back with a three from the left wing, and it was 32-24.

Howell followed with a jumper and then two free throws, and it was a 12-point game.

The young point guard ended up going 7-for-8 from the line in the final 2:46.

“I’m lucky enough to have him for five years,” Burton said. “I’ve had him for two years. He’s got two championships already.”

Baldwin owned only 16 points at halftime, but it held Port Washington to 10.

“Our defense, that’s what we focus on in practice all the time,” Timberlake said. “Burton is a defense-first coach. … He’s a great coach. I love him a lot.”


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